Senator Roberto Calderoli has come under fire for saying Italy's black Minister of Integration, Cécile Kyenge, shares "similarities with an orangutan" at a party meeting.
The entire quote is as follows:
I love animals – bears and wolves, as is known – but when I see the pictures of Kyenge I cannot but think of the features of an orangutan, even if I'm not saying she is one.
The quote has gone viral, inciting widespread criticism of Senator Roberto, who represents the Northern League political party, Italy's far-far-right wing representatives. Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta denounced the remark in a communique Sunday.
The words reported today in the press attributed to Senator Calderoli regarding Cecile Kyenge are unacceptable and go beyond all limits.
Calls for Calderoli's resignation have begun within the Italian government.
Gianni Cuperlo, a lawmaker from the Italian Democratic Party is quoted saying,
The remarks addressed to Minister Kyenge are not worthy of a man who represents our institutions.
This isn't the first time Calderoli's actions have landed him in the media. In 2006 he was forced to resign from the coalition-government of then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi because he wore a t-shirt with a cartoon illustration mocking the prophet Muhammad.
Kyenge, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has faced numerous verbal slurs and death threats since she began her role at Italy's integration minister. In June, a local councilor was ejected from the League party for posting a message on Facebook calling for the rape of Kyenge.